Relativism: worldviews do matter

JP: Good read by Chuck Colson. Image is cover art from Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air.

A Serious Decay – We’re paying the bill for relativism

Excerpts:

… if we look honestly at what started the credit crisis—moral failures and following false worldviews—we recognize that the solution demands more than any political savior can possibly deliver.

The roots of the crisis go beyond political blunders to Wall Street, which devised a clever new product: Buy mortgages from banks, bundle them into mortgage-based securities, and sell them. Wall Street bankers reaped a windfall, but the scheme shifted the risk from the lending bank or mortgage broker to some Swiss hedge fund. Unintended consequences quickly followed. With cash flooding into the banks (which had no risks), every savings and loan, Internet start-up, lender, and mortgage broker urged people to take mortgages whether they could repay them or not.


Individuals, having collectively run up trillions in debt and a zero rate of savings, share much of the blame—but no one accepts responsibility. When the meltdown started in October, the culprits in Congress feigned surprise; the public flooded them with e-mails opposing the bailout, half of them (according to polls) because they didn’t feel responsible. So much for the public good.

This is dramatic evidence that worldviews do matter. The dominant attitude of recent decades says there are no moral truths—that we should simply live for the moment and get whatever we can out of life. This worldview has led to the chaos we are experiencing. By contrast, the Christian worldview teaches us to live within our means, defer gratification, and treat others honorably—all requirements for sustaining personal prosperity and the free-market system.

But free markets can remain free only if individuals behave responsibly and police themselves. We are not doing that today; we have ignored moral restraints, even labeling them intolerant.

This financial crisis is in reality a crisis of character. And the taxpayers are stuck with a staggering bill and a shaky economic future.

The long-term casualty of this debacle is freedom. When free societies abuse their freedom, governments step in.

…. we Christians have an even bigger job. Unless we can renew in our culture a worldview encouraging virtue and responsibility, the economic maelstrom of the past year will only be a foretaste of things to come.

Definitions:

‘Relativism’ is a philosophical theory asserting that there is no absolute truth, only truth relative to the individual, or to a particular time or culture, or both.

A close cousin to relativism is “subjectivism”, essentially the belief that all beliefs are purely matters of personal opinion.

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2008: Top 10 Religion stories

JP: Interesting from Dan Burrell.

Whirled Views “Top Ten Religion Stories Impacting Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in 2008.”

Highlights:

10. Persecution of Christians in India Escalates

2008 was the year in which believers in India were brazenly attacked while much of the year yawned. Particularly in the area of Orissa, multiple accounts of murders, burnings, beatings, and threats against evangelical and Catholic adherents were reported. While there was some condemnation and outrage expressed, few have pressured their governments to get involved in protecting India’s Christian minority against Hindu and Muslim militants, which have declared “open season” on followers of Christ. Particularly silent on the topic has been the American church.

9. Bob Jones University Apologizes for Racist Policies of the Past

In a stunning admission and public apology, America’s most historically militant fundamentalist university addressed its segregationist past, which included a refusal to admit blacks into its student bodies and an even longer policy that did not permit interracial dating. While Bob Jones III lifted the ban against interracial dating several years ago in the waning years of his presidency, it was left to Stephen Jones—fourth generation of Jones leadership at what is billed as the “World’s Most Unusual University”—to try to address the stigma that has certainly been an unwelcome stain on the reputation of what most would acknowledge as one of the finest institutions of its kind in the area of academic rigor. Many believe that part of the motivation behind the public apology was due to an online petition started by bloggers, alumni, and supporters of the university. University officials have denied that their response was due to the public pressure and went so far as to declare the petition drive “unbiblical” and “unprofitable” in a recent faculty meeting, according to sources who were present. It would appear that Stephen Jones may be working to moderate a strident reputation that has settled over the university in recent decades and has reduced its influence and pool of supporters. In addition to the reversal on interracial dating, the university has also announced that it would seek accreditation for the first time—albeit from a second-tier agency (TRACS). Some are hoping that other changes will follow, including lifting a policy that precludes intercollegiate athletic competitions and a softening of what they see as an extreme position on music, which has caused great division in Fundamentalism and which many alumni, students, and even faculty privately disdain or ignore altogether.

7. Enrollment Woes and Problems Plague Colleges

2008 was not a good year for many smaller and private colleges. With the exception of schools like the perennial powerhouse Liberty University, most conservative evangelical and fundamentalist schools were not exempt. In a stunning turn, the historic Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Owatonna, Minnesota, announced that it would close in December just weeks after installing new president, Greg Huffman. Baptist Bible College in Clark Summit, Pennsylvania, reported a dramatic drop in enrollment in the fall. Atlantic Coast Baptist Bible College announced its closure and the merging of its assets with Piedmont Baptist College. Two of the finest seminaries in the SBC, Southwestern and Southern, have  undergone significant budget cuts due to the economic downturn. Tennessee Temple University is aligning with the Tennessee state Southern Baptist association in an effort to forge a working relationship that will bring students and dollars to its campus. Cedarville University is reportedly undergoing internal conflict that is alienating some within its historic base of GARB-aligned churches over the direction that it is charting under President Bill Brown. Several other colleges are offering dramatic tuition discounts and other tactics in order to attract new students. The world economic crisis and problems attaining student loans are also contributing to the difficulty many Christian colleges are having in holding enrollment and in staying in the black financially.

Comment: Select link for full list. Image from Time

Dan Burrell is the executive pastor of New Testament Baptist Church and vice president of Dade Christian Schools in Miami, Florida. He is also the site director of the South Florida campus of Davis College and serves as an adjunct professor for Liberty University and Boston Baptist College. His blog is “Whirled Views” at http://www.danburrell.com. He has been married for nearly 25 years and has four children ranging in age from 20 to 11.

A worm with a Redeemer

Fear not, you worm Jacob,
You men of Israel!
I will help you,” says the LORD
And your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:14)

Remember that you are a worm, a worm with a Redeemer

Excerpt:

I love this passage. It is nestled in the midst of the prophet Isaiah’s grand trumpeting of God’s faithfulness in providing salvation for his people.

God reminds his people that they are insignificant, weak, and helpless. But at the same time that they have a glorious, powerful, eternally significant redeemer who is none other than the Holy One of Israel.

This is just such good Christ-centered balance. The proper perspective for understanding the greatness of our Redeemer is to understand something of the helplessness of the one who needs such redemption. The fact that our God has made everything and does now sustain everything serves to remind my forgetful heart of his timeless power and priority to exalt his own greatness. Somehow as a worm I fit into this grand plan!

JP: Image is subset of desktop wallpaper available here.